Yeovil Town are currently in the middle of three days where they are holding a public exhibition over plans to build a new food store on land at Huish Park. The event has seen a few more bits of information come out concerning the development, including a warning from Chairman John Fry that there could be 'dire' consequences if the plans to develop the land north of the stadium fail to be approved.
On Wednesday, BBC Somerset got an advance look at the plans, running a piece on their Thursday breakfast show. The project will see the club sell two training pitches and a car park to a developer, comprising of around six acres of land owned by the club - just under 25 percent of the existing Huish Park land. The project team have engaged architect John Hewitt to help design the layout at the north side of the stadium, and he told the BBC that replacement pitches would be found elsewhere within the area:
"The club has got plans to provide new training pitches, with full access to the community elsewhere within the parish. This leaves us with a development area in which we have enough space to create a superstore and a community park. The existing food stores that are present in Yeovil are trading very well, and in fact almost over-trading. So there is capacity within the market place, of which there is no doubt, that would be taken up by a superstore of this type."
The exhibition shows that the project will see a single 'warehouse' style building erected, comprising of 70,000 square feet of space in the North-West part of the current Huish Park land. There will be a total of 491 car parking spaces provided to support those looking to shop at the food store, with additional spaces for cyclists.
Around 6 percent of the car park slots will be dedicated spaces provided for disabled shoppers. There will also be 'parent and child' parking. To the east of the store and its car park, there will be a public open space - what Hewitt refers to as a 'community park' - with walkways leading from Western Avenue for pedestrians into the food store car park. The exhibition display indicates that it is 'likely' that the food store car park will be 'managed' on matchdays to avoid a conflict between football supporter parking and food store parking.
The use of the land by the food store will provide the football club with additional revenue - either as a lump sum or as an ongoing income. Glovers Chairman John Fry explained to the BBC what they hoped to get out of the project:
"To develop supporters facilities, better car parking and traffic arrangements. But we just need to bring everything up to 21st Century standard. Over the 20 years, we've only put in one stand, which is the home end stand, which has very few facilities for the supporters. Our main emphasis will be upon giving a better matchday experience at Huish Park."
However, Fry warned that the income they were likely to get from the food store project would not solve all of the club's ills. He said that once they had full planning approval that they would begin to look at what the money would be spent on, strongly suggesting that plans for a new Copse Road Stand would be separated out from the food store plans:
"We're not going to raise the money that we need to develop everything we have on our list through the food store. So that food store itself, when approved, will enable us to look at the future for the next five years."
The BBC Somerset report suggested that it could be around 2015 before the club begin to see their plans realised. However, planning permission for the project is in no way a foregone conclusion, and Fry gave a doomladen warning of the consequences of any application being rejected:
"It will be a struggle - a big struggle. In fact it will be dire, from the point of view that we have to bring in the revenues to maintain our position in the Football League. Basically, we are running out of time."
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